Campus Life

MSC SCONA Welcomes Former Astronauts To Discuss The Future Of Space Travel, Exploration

Among the astronauts featured will be Col. Mike Fossum, Texas A&M vice president and COO of the university’s Galveston campus.
By Jamie Arrexi, Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs October 24, 2023

MSC SCONA, The Next Small Step: America's New Space Age


The Memorial Student Center Student Conference On National Affairs (MSC SCONA) welcomes three former astronauts, now current leaders in the private and commercial space industries for, “The Next Small Step: America’s New Space Age.” The program begins at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26 in Rudder Auditorium on the Texas A&M University campus.

Col. Mike Fossum '80 in his NASA space suit
Col. Mike Fossum ’80


Moderated by Col. Mike Fossum ‘80, USAF (Ret.), the discussion will focus on space as a commercial zone, military front, spy ring, economic opportunity and more. Fossum, who spent 19 years as an astronaut, is a vice president at Texas A&M, the chief operating officer of Texas A&M-Galveston and superintendent of the university’s maritime academy.

“Space has captured the hearts and minds of Americans for generations and has remained a consistent topic of discourse over the past 60 years,” said Rockne Reid ’24, vice chair of logistics for MSC SCONA. “As the space domain changes with next-generation technology and missions, it is important to examine how the United States operates in space now and what the future holds. The MSC SCONA panel on space will do just this, fostering a spirited conversation on what the future of space travel, exploration and exploitation will look like.”

Panelists for the discussion include retired astronauts:

  • Garrett Reisman, senior advisor in the commercial space industry
  • Tim Kopra, U.S. Army (Ret.), acting CEO of Nanoracks LLC, a private space company

“Col. Fossum, Dr. Reisman and Col. Kopra are deeply knowledgeable on the potential of the U.S. in space, but more importantly they are passionate,” said Cameryn Jones, vice chair of communications for MSC SCONA. “This dynamic group will leave the audience feeling more interested in, curious about, and engaged with the national conversation of space than ever before.”

Tickets are available at the MSC Box Office, located on the first floor of Rudder Tower. Tickets will also be available at the door with admission $5 for students and $8 for the public. Veterans and their guests will be admitted free of charge.

“I’m excited for MSC SCONA’s fall program because it’s trying to contextualize what we’re hearing all over campus: Space is important to Texas A&M,” said Ethan Finney ‘24, chair of MSC SCONA. “Over the summer, lots of news came out that as an organization Texas A&M is putting a great amount of resources over the next couple of years to bringing research centered on space to campus. I think this panel could be a great opportunity to hear more about what that means for Aggies and what it means for our community.”

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